The term is amorphous, taking different shape depending on what substance it is given.  Generally, it refers to efforts to reduce the impacts from climate heating or breakdown by eliminating reliance on fossil fuels.  The phrase “new deal” harkens back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s extensive program to transform the US economy in the aftermath of the Great Depression.

In its broadest sense, it means a general goal to transform an economy to one based on sustainable resources, instead of fossil fuels.  Only the outcome is adopted, in general terms, not any means for getting there.   This was the more frequent application over the past decade, when the term started to surface.  See, for instance, Green New Deal in this magazine in November 2009.

More recently, the term has adopted a more substantial form.  It can mean a set of particular principles on which such a transformation might be achieved.  For example, the Green New Deal for Europe has recently published a set of the ten “pillars” necessary to construct a Green New Deal.  It does not define what legislative regime would be necessary, but rather what elements of the regime would constitute a ‘green new deal.”






Or it may mean a set of specific actions and measures, with a timetable, to insure the transformation occurs.  Recently a Green New Deal was introduced as a legislative proposal, or resolution, by the Democrats in the US Congress.  This form of a GND is wider in scope than many others as it includes actions to address societal problems like economic inequality and racial injustice, as well as to reduce greenhouse gases and ameliorate the effects of climate breakdown.  On the climate, it includes specific targets (net–zero GHG emissions by 2050) and particular measures to achieve these targets (e.g., 100 percent of the country’s electricity from renewable and zero-emissions power; upgrading the nation’s power grid; and making more energy-efficient every building in the country).


Some further ideas to explore on Green New Deal:

Are there any other examples of a large-scale extensive transformation of an economy comparable to Roosevelt’s New Deal?

Select one of the targets or measures in the US Green New Deal and determine how much it would cost to implement between now and 2050.

See if it is possible to estimate the cost of doing nothing to reduce GHG emissions between now and 2050, in a particular country or globally.



“Green New Deal” in iePEDIA section (November 2009) of

Green New Deal for Europe, 10 Pillars of the Green New Deal for Europe (May 2019).   See, also, discussion of this development in the Reports section of the current (July 2019) issue of

H.Res.109 – Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.

David Roberts, “The Green New Deal, explained,” Vox (30 March 2019).

Robert Emmet Hernan, “The ruckus over the Democrat’s Green New Deal: Linking climate change with economic inequality,” in ieBLOG section (March 2019) of

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